2010 Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts

Sharon and I attended our third straight, and the 23rd annual, Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts tonight, held at the Winspear Centre. The event “celebrates some of the best artistic talents our city has to offer” and offers “sample-sized performances from some of Edmonton’s most talented artists and performers.” I’ve always enjoyed myself in the past, and tonight was no different.

Here is Mayor Mandel’s message to all Friends of the Arts, clearly inspired by the Vancouver Olympics:

Our creative culture helps make Edmonton the interesting and exciting city we are proud to call home and I’m proud to host this celebration of one of our city’s greatest assets.

Throughout the Vancouver Olympics, many of us felt inspired and proud as we watched out athletes strive for excellence. Like our Olympic athletes, Edmonton’s artists, writers and performers entertain and inspire us…stimulate and challenge us. This evening is all about Edmonton’s creative minds and their drive for excellence and achievement.

As well, during the Olympics we saw many stories of the “difference makers” – those who support our athletes as they strive to excel, and we were touched by these stories. In Edmonton, it is our businesses and community that are the difference makers to our artists – standing behind them and supporting them in their endeavours.

Tonight, we honour every member of Edmonton’s creative culture, and thank those who support it. Enjoy the show!

The full list of tonight’s nominees is available at the PACE website. Here are the winners:

The Mayor’s Award for Sustained Support of the Arts
Players de Novo, nominated by Concrete Theatre

The Mayor’s Award for Innovative Support by a Business for the Arts
Maclab Enterprises, Bruce Bentley, President & CEO, nominated by Edmonton Symphony Orchestra

John Poole Award for Promotion of the Arts
Allan E. Scott, nominated by Art Gallery of Alberta

City of Edmonton Book Prize
Waiting for Columbus, Thomas Trofimuk, McClelland & Stewart

Stantec Youth Artist Award ($2500 cash prize)
Matthew Jonah, nominated by Greg Dowler-Coltman

TELUS Courage to Innovate Award ($2500 cash prize)
Trevor Anderson, nominated by City of Edmonton, Office of the Environment

Northlands Award for an Emerging Artist ($2500 cash prize)
Raymond Biesinger, nominated by David Berry

Molson Award for Excellence in Artistic Direction ($2500 cash prize)
Greg Dowler-Coltman, nominated by Edmonton Opera

Sutton Place People’s Choice Award
Jeff Holmwood, glassworks

ATCO Gas Award for Outstanding Lifetime Achievement ($2500 cash prize)
Alice Major, nominated by John Mahon

2010 Mayor's Celebration of the Arts2010 MAyor's Celebration of the Arts

Performers included:

  • Yellow Ribbon Dancers, who opened the show
  • Good Spirit Trio, classical musicians
  • Jeremy Baumung & Kenneth Brown, who performed Homeless, a really moving story about working in one of Edmonton’s toughest homeless shelters
  • Allez Ouest, the face of Franco-Albertan music
  • 3rd Street Beat, Edmonton’s first hip hop studio, who wowed the crowd after the intermission
  • Andrew Grose, a very funny comedian who made everyone laugh with his “bed in a bag” bit
  • The Wheat Pool, who performed two songs from their new album – I definitely need to check these guys out
  • Vinok Worldance, who closed the show

My favorite performance was easily 3rd Street Beat, they really stole the show for a few minutes! I also really enjoyed The Wheat Pool, Andrew Grose, and Jeremy Baumung’s performance, which was top notch. The diversity of performances seemed to be back this year, though the second half of the night definitely had the most energy.

Sharon and I were kind of looking forward to the big dance at the end – where everyone, including the Mayor, gets up on stage as part of the final performance – but for whatever reason it didn’t happen this year. I guess the High School Musical-inspired foyer dance at the beginning made up for it though!

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

You can read my previous recaps here: 2008, 2009

Recap: artsScene Edmonton boardLink

Tonight was the first ever boardLink event in Edmonton, hosted by artsScene Edmonton with partners Emerging Business Leaders, InterVivos, and JCI Edmonton and held in the Shoctor Lobby at The Citadel. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to attend, but I’m glad I did. Here’s what it was all about:

boardLink is a national program that was created by Business for the Arts in 2002. Since its start, boardLink has connected hundreds of young professionals with volunteer opportunities in various arts and culture communities throughout Canada with boardLink Online and boardLink Live events.

You can think of it like speed dating for local arts organizations and potential volunteers. The organizations on hand tonight included: The Citadel Theatre, Edmonton Opera Association, Mile Zero Dance, Edmonton Jazz Festival Society, The Works International Visual Arts Society, The Art Gallery of Alberta, LitFest: Edmonton International Literary Festival, Fringe Theatre Adventures, Latitude 53, and Alberta Foundation for the Arts. There were roughly 50 potential volunteers in attendance.

artsScene Edmonton boardLinkartsScene Edmonton boardLink

At the beginning of the event, everyone was given five small post-it notes to paste on the agenda BarCamp-style, indicating which organization they wanted to check out in each rotation. The rotations themselves were 15 minutes each, so you had to be quick meeting an arts organization and introducing yourself. It wasn’t one-on-one, instead each arts organization had at least two volunteers and there were three or more potential volunteers in each group.

I did three rotations: Fringe Theatre Adventures, The Art Gallery of Alberta, and Latitude 53. The three could not have been more different! No one really knew what to do (so I guess it really was like speed dating in that way) but Sam and Thomas from FTA did a good job of giving an overview of the organization and the opportunities available. Unfortunately we didn’t have much time to chat. In stark contrast to them, Allan and Priscilla from the AGA relied on us to prompt them with questions. It was a little awkward, but they were definitely excited about their new building. Finally, Todd and Vieri were very casual, funny, and off-topic. I enjoyed chatting with all of them.

It became clear to me as the evening unfolded that there’s a big disconnect between young people such as myself, and the arts organizations that were in attendance. We don’t know how to communicate with one another.

It was even evident during the opening remarks – EBL, InterVivos, and JCI were all well-spoken and informal human-sounding, talking about the great things they wanted to accomplish together. Penny from The Citadel congratulated everyone for coming and showing an interest, and ended by announcing a two-for-one offer for attendees. It just seemed tacky and out of place.

artsScene Edmonton boardLinkartsScene Edmonton boardLink

I’d say the event was a successful one, but it’s the follow-up that will truly determine the outcome. Everyone filled out a “volunteer profile” that will be circulated to the arts organizations so they will contact individuals who might be a good fit. More importantly, I hope artsScene puts on additional boardLink events in the future so that we can work on that communication disconnect!

Be sure to check out the artsScene Edmonton blog and Twitter for updates. You can see the rest of my photos from tonight here.

Recap: artsScene Edmonton Summer Party

Last night was the artsScene Edmonton “Jekyll & Hyde” Summer Party. The unique event was held at two venues – first the “Jekyll” part at Latitude 53’s rooftop patio, then the “Hyde” part at Prohibition. I had never been to Latitude 53 before, so it was a great opportunity to check out the space. The crowd was a bit smaller than anticipated, but everyone had a great time chatting, drinking, and listening to the musical stylings of Keri Lynn Zwicker and Jay Sparrow.

At around 9pm, the crowd started to migrate to Prohibition where Peter Sagar, Roland Pemberton III, and The Cake Eaters performed. It seems that many people skipped the first part of the evening and went straight to Prohibition, because the place was packed. Ken Bautista, Chair of artsScene Alberta, mentioned that they did the two venue style event in Calgary with locations directly across the street from one another. I think that would have worked better here too.

One of the interesting things they did during the event was walk around with an iPhone survey using software by local firm TouchMetric. The results were displayed on an LCD screen at Prohibition, which was pretty neat.

You can see my photos from the evening here. Hopefully they’ll soon have much better photos (and video too) on the website.

artsScene Edmonton Summer PartyartsScene Edmonton Summer PartyartsScene Edmonton Summer PartyartsScene Edmonton Summer PartyartsScene Edmonton Summer PartyartsScene Edmonton Summer Party

In addition to the socializing, there was some news about upcoming artsScene events. The first is called boardLink:

boardLink is a live event that introduces and connect young professionals (ages 18-40) with local arts boards through a unique speed-networking format. boardLink creates opportunities for young people to be more actively involved in the leadership and development of Edmonton’s arts and culture scene.

Event partners include Emerging Business Leaders, InterVivos, Junior Chamber International Edmonton, and The Citadel Theatre. The first boardLink event will happen about a month from now:

WHAT: boardLink
WHEN: September 28, 2009 at 6:30pm
WHERE: Shoctor Lobby, The Citadel Theatre

Tickets are $15 – check the website for more information.

The second event we learned about is actually a series of events – the Behind the Scenes Series, featuring five of Edmonton’s major arts organizations.

At each Behind the Scenes event, young professionals (ages 18-40) discover the performing and visual arts in our community through exclusive talks with artists and artistic directors, stage and gallery tours, and opportunities to attend performances and exhibitions with follow artsSceners.

Here the the dates for each organization:

October 19, 2009 – Edmonton Opera: Featuring Rigoletto
November 9, 2009 – The Citadel Theatre: Featuring Rock ‘N’ Roll
January 18, 2010 – Edmonton Symphony Orchestra: Featuring Late Night Beethoven
April 8, 2010 – Alberta Ballet: Featuring Songs of a Wayfarer and The Seven Deadly Sins
May 20, 2010 – Art Gallery of Alberta: Discover the inner workings of the new AGA and see a new exhibition come to life

You can get tickets for an individual event for $19, or passes to all five for $79. Again, check the website for more information.

artsScene is starting to make some really cool things happen for young professionals in Edmonton. Stay tuned to their blog and Twitter for updates!

artsScene Edmonton Summer Party – August 20th

Back in May I attended the launch party for artsScene Edmonton – a fantastic event at Planet Ze Design Centre in Old Strathcona. I had a great time, and suggested that artsScene events could become “must attend” events for local creatives. The first test of that is coming up next week:

On August 20, we’re ready to bring you our second party – a “Jekyll & Hyde” themed summer party that promises to be bigger and better, with two venues, more featured artists, DJs, and live music acts!

They have since announced the performers, and they include: Kerri-Lenn Zwicker, Jay Sparrow, Field + Stream, The Outdoor Miners, and guest DJs The Cake Eaters and Roland Pemberton III.

The “Jekyll” part of the event starts at 6pm at Latitude 53 (10248 106th Street), while the “Hyde” part gets underway at 9pm at Prohibition (11026 Jasper Avenue). Tickets are just $15 online or $20 at the door and include access to both venues. You can pickup your tickets here.

Don’t forget artsScene Edmonton is on Twitter, Facebook, and they have a mailing list. They also recently joined LinkedIn, so get connected!

Hope to see you on the 20th!

artsScene Edmonton Launch Party

Tonight I attended the artsScene Edmonton Launch Party at Planet Ze Design Center in Old Strathcona. I was quite excited when I heard back in April that the initiative was coming to Edmonton, because I think it’s a great idea. From the press release:

artsScene is a new initiative that brings together young business and creative professionals (ages 18-40) to grow the arts, culture and creative industries in our community. artsScene is an initiative of Business for the Arts, a national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting business leadership in the arts, facilitating funding relationships and connecting business volunteers to the arts. artsScene has been established in Toronto, Halifax and Montreal, and now Edmonton and Calgary.

Tonight’s event was a party, one of five different types of events that artScene will be hosting. Others include BoardLink (speed networking), Roundtables (breakfast sessions), Behind the Scenes (engage with artists), and a Creative Summit (two-day conference). The next event will be a BoardLink in June, followed by a summer party in August.

artsScene EdmontonartsScene EdmontonartsScene EdmontonSharon & MackMichael & KenCadence Weapon

Featured artists this evening included Denise Lefebvre, Patrick Higgins, and Shelby Wallace. Other special guests were Edmonton’s newest poet laureate Roland Pemberton (aka Cadence Weapon), and DJ Marc it Fresh (Marcus Coldeway). CBC Radio3 was also in attendance. Organizers said over 100 tickets were sold ahead of time, and there was strong interest at the door. I’d say there was easily 125 people there by the time I left. It was a good mix of people too! SmibsTV was recording some interviews, so keep an eye on their site for video.

I think artsScene events could quickly become “must attend” events for creative professionals in Edmonton. Check out the website, and stay connected – artsScene Edmonton is on Twitter, Facebook, and has a mailing list. You can see my photos from this evening here.

2009 Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts

2009 Mayor's Celebration of the Arts Last night Sharon and I attended the 22nd annual Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts at the Winspear Centre. The annual awards ceremony recognizes members of the local arts community, and features a number of performances. As I said last year, it’s a good way to sample the variety offered by Edmonton’s arts scene.

We were fortunate enough to get tickets to the pre-ceremony reception from Bryan Cox of Molson, one of the event’s sponsors and long-time supporter of the arts community. It was great to meet Bryan and his colleague Ferg Devins. You can read about all of the things they are doing at the Molson in the Community blog.

The reception was held at The Citadel, in an area we’ve never been to (upstairs with the waterfall). It was a really great venue! We had some wine, sampled the food, and took in the sights and sounds. There were lots of recognizable faces in the crowd, including the Mayor himself, a number of City Councillors, and many of the people that keep Edmonton’s arts community interesting and growing.

The main event was held in the wonderful Enmax Hall at the Winspear Centre. Once again we purchased tickets for the Upper Circle and sat in the middle of the front row, which gave us a great view of the entire venue. It seemed as though there were less people in attendance than there were last year, but it was still a fairly big crowd (and the foyer was packed at intermission). CBC’s Peter Brown and CTV’s Carrie Doll once again emceed the event, and they did a great job.

You can view the full list of nominees in this PDF file. Here are the winners:

The Mayor’s Award for Sustained Support of the Arts
See Magazine, nominated by Latitude 53 Contemporary Visual Culture

The Mayor’s Award for Innovative Support by a Business for the Arts
CIBC, nominated by the Citadel Theatre

The John Poole Award for Promotion of the Arts
Ellis Brother’s Photography, nominated by the Arts Touring Alliance

The City of Edmonton Book Prize
Jack W. Brink, Athabasca University Press

The Stantec Youth Artist Award
Roydon Tse, nominated by Ross Sheppard School

TELUS Courage to Innovate Award
Rising Sun Theatre, nominated by Gerry Potter

The Molson Award for Excellence in Artistic Direction
Shelley Switzer, nominated by Bottom Line Productions

The Northlands Award for an Emerging Artist
Kristy Trinier, nominated by the Art Gallery of Alberta

The Sutton Place Hotel People’s Choice Award
Jonathan Kaiser

ATCO Gas Award for Outstanding Lifetime Achievement
Timothy Ryan, nominated by MacEwan Centre for the Arts

Performers included:

  • Jeremy Spurgeon, who opened the show on the Winspear’s massive organ.
  • The Be Arthurs, who performed covers of Toxic by Britney Spears and Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.
  • The Raving Poets, who shared three poems set to music.
  • Chris Craddock & Nathan Cuckow, who performed a piece from their gay rap opera, Bash’d.
  • Ann Vriend, who sang three songs at the piano, including a cover of Queen’s We Are The Champions.
  • John Cameron, who encouraged the audience to sing along to a cover of Niel Diamond’s Sweet Caroline.
  • KO Dance Project, who performed an interesting interpretive dance.
  • Bomba!, a latin-jazz group who closed out the show.

My favorite performances were The Be Arthurs and Chris Craddock & Nathan Cuckow – very entertaining! I’m very glad I had the opportunity to see them perform, and wouldn’t hesitate to attend one of their shows in the future. Ann Vriend is definitely talented, but I think I liked Samantha Schultz better last year. I also thought the performances weren’t as varied as last year, which featured theatre in addition to musical numbers.

We were surprised that the event ran past 10pm, especially considering they seemed to be running at a decent pace before the intermission. Still, it was entertaining and enjoyable. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

You can see my tweets from the event here, and my photoset is here.

Upcoming Edmonton Events: Pecha Kucha 2 & DemoCamp 3

Attention all “creatives” in Edmonton – two popular events are happening again in our city in September that you don’t want to miss!

The first is Pecha Kucha Night 2, taking place on September 11th. The first Pecha Kucha in Edmonton took place back on May 1st, and it went very well. Essentially a dozen or so presenters will each have the opportunity to show 20 slides at 20 seconds per slide. Typically the content is arts & design.

Date: Thursday, September 11, 2008
Time: 6:30pm to 9:30pm
Location: TransAlta Arts Barns, Westbury Theatre, 10330 84th Avenue (map)
Cost: $5 at the door

You’ll need to RSVP to nextgen@edmonton.ca. You can find more information here.

The second event is DemoCampEdmonton 3, taking place on September 17th. Local entrepreneurs and developers will show off real stuff they’re building. You can read about our first two democamps here and here.

Date: Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Time: 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Location: E1 017, ETLC, University of Alberta (map)
Cost: Free

If you’re planning to attend, add your name to the wiki page.

Should be a couple of great events. See you at both!

Pecha Kucha Night: Edmonton #1

Tonight I attended the first ever Pecha Kucha Night in Western Canada, held downtown at the Winspear Centre. Edmonton’s Next Gen worked hard to bring the popular event to our city, to help showcase local designers, architects, artists, and other creatives. Until recently, I hadn’t heard of Pecha Kucha but it’s actually a worldwide phenomenon of sorts, having spread to over 120 countries virally. Here’s what it’s all about:

Pecha Kucha Night, devised by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham, was conceived in 2003 as a place for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public.

Each presenter is allowed 20 images, each shown for 20 seconds each – giving 6 minutes 40 seconds of fame before the next presenter is up. This keeps presentations concise, the interest level up, and gives more people the chance to show.

Pecha Kucha (which is Japanese for the sound of conversation) has tapped into a demand for a forum in which creative work can be easily and informally shown, without having to rent a gallery or chat up a magazine editor.

To me it’s sort of like the design world equivalent of DemoCamp, though that may be simplifying things a bit.

pecha kucha night

Tonight’s event featured thirteen presenters with a range of interests, from urban planning and design to humanities visualization research. A twenty minute break split the presentations, and offered me a chance to go from sitting to standing. I think standing was better – easier to see, harder to get bored.

Yes, some of the presentations were a bit dry. If only they all contained the energy and humor and enthusiasm that Myron Belej’s presentation on urban color did. Essentially what Myron did was take photos of our city, and then added color to the buildings. It was really interesting, and his style of presentation was great for an event like this. Everyone was paying attention to Myron. His “21st slide” is a colored Rexall Place, and you can see it at his website.

The current plan is to have four Pecha Kucha Night’s per year here in Edmonton. Apparently some larger cities like San Francisco do one every month! I think it’s great that our city has an event like this, and I expect the presentations and attendance will only get better.

For more information, check out the official Pecha Kucha website or Wikipedia. You might also want to sign up for the Edmonton Next Gen newsletter, to find out when the next one in our city will be held! I snapped a few photos too, which you can see here.

Falstaff at the Edmonton Opera

falstaff Back in February I went to see the Edmonton Opera’s production of H.M.S. Pinafore. As a first-timer, I was pleasantly surprised! I can honestly say I had a good time and enjoyed the opera. With that in mind, I agreed to check out Falstaff on Saturday with Sharon. Here’s the description from Wikipedia:

Falstaff is an operatic commedia lirica in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi, adapted by Arrigo Boito from Shakespeare’s plays The Merry Wives of Windsor and scenes from Henry IV. It was Verdi’s last opera, written in the composer’s eighth decade, and only the second of his twenty-six operas to be a comedy.

It was entertaining enough, but I didn’t enjoy Falstaff nearly as much as H.M.S. Pinafore. I think I took a few things for granted. For one thing, Pinafore was in English, so the subtitles weren’t completely necessary. They were for Falstaff though. Pinafore starred my favorite, Jeff Haslam. The characters were more interesting. By comparison, Falstaff seemed sort of boring. We also had pizza and beer during the intermission at Pinafore, which probably made more of a difference than I expected.

In short, Falstaff was closer to the image of opera that I have always had in my head. Interesting, but not really my thing.

Before the show they played a video introducing the lineup for next season. Edmonton Opera will perform Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman, Donizetti’s Daughter of the Regiment, and Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers. The “plus one” performance will be Verdi’s La Traviata. Every time they announced one of the titles, the audience seemed to gasp with delight. Sharon and I just looked at each other, puzzled. I guess it helps if you’ve heard of them before!

Sharon’s write-up is here.

2008 Mayor's Celebration of the Arts

mayor's evening for the arts On Monday night I attended the 21st annual Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts at the Winspear Centre downtown. The annual event features performances by members of Edmonton’s arts community, and awards to celebrate the individuals who helped to make Edmonton the Cultural Capital of Canada. I came across it a couple months ago when I noticed that Teatro La Quindicina would be performing. Sharon and I are both fans, so we decided to buy tickets.

We paid $25 to sit in the front row of the Upper Circle level. The gallery (top level) was filled with students who were sponsored by Epcor and other businesses. The main level seemed to be full of representatives from sponsor organizations, the award nominees, and their friends and family. The reason I mention all this is that we got the distinct feeling we were among the few who actually paid out-of-pocket for tickets. Apparently attendance was up this year though.

The inside page of the event programme contained this message from Mayor Stephen Mandel. I quite like it (wonder if he wrote it, guessing not) so I’ve included it here in its entirety:

Take a bow, if you make your living in the arts – you give us the kind of City we want to live in. You make us laugh and think and smile and marvel and tap-our-toes, and you contribute to our great quality-of-life.

Take a bow, if you’ve supported the arts. Businesses, individuals, groups and volunteers – you’re vital in making sure our Creative Community flourishes so that great quality-of-life continues.

And take a bow if you’ve bought a ticket to be part of an audience. It gives you license to be a critic and a fan – and it ensures that even when we pass the title to another city, Edmonton will continue to be “Canada’s Cultural Capital”.

On-stage, on-screen, in theatres and cafes, out on our streets and in our concert halls, it’s a privilege to live in a City that’s bursting with so much creativity. And a privilege too, to be part of a City that’s filled with those who invest in and support it.

Congratulations to everyone who’s part of Edmonton’s professional arts community – and everyone who supports it.

The event was emceed by Peter Brown from CBC Edmonton, and Carrie Doll from CTV Edmonton. They did a great job, and Peter was especially funny! I found the most boring part of the show to be the awards. You can view the list of winners here (PDF).

The performances were what I really went to see. Kita No Taiko, Renee Brad of the Edmonton Opera, Red Power Squad, Brian Webb Dance Company, Samantha Schultz, Teatro La Quindicina, and Le Fuzz all performed. My favorites were definitely Red Power Squad, Samantha Schultz, and Teatro. The final performance by Le Fuzz was pretty cool too, as many of the attendees got up on stage and started dancing, including the mayor himself.

Not sure if I’d attend every year, but the Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts is definitely a great way to sample the variety offered by Edmonton’s art scene.

Where is everyone? The Winspear Full House Dancing!